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21 March 2002
Press Release No. HQ/G/11/2002
21 March 2002


Gaza - March 21,2002
The Israeli military incursion into refugee camps and the bombing of Gaza City centre during March will cost the United Nations Relief and Works Agency at least $3.8 million in immediate needs, according to early estimates of the damage done to UN installations, refugee shelters and camp infrastructure. The figure does not include much more needed for the future social and health needs of a severely traumatised refugee population.

IDF actions caused damage to 22 UN schools, four UN health clinics, two UN ambulances and four camp service centres. The entire military exercise will cost UNRWA at least $270,000 in immediate repairs to its installations while the UN alone will have to spend $225,000 on urgently needed road and infrastructure repairs inside the camps. Much more will need to be spent by the wider Palestinian community on rebuilding the overall environment of the camps.

According to early estimates it will cost UNRWA over $2.3 million to rebuild the 141 refugee homes that were destroyed during the Israeli Defence Forces action in the camps. A further $540,000 is needed to repair the 1,800 shelters that suffered minor damage. This comes in addition to the more than 5,000 refugees whose homes had already been damaged or destroyed by IDF bulldozing and shelling since September 2000.

During the assault on the camps, and at great risk to their own safety, UNRWA staff distributed emergency food rations and cash support to 717 families, gave blankets to 166 families, allocated 36 tents and passed out 116 kitchen kits at a total cost of $416,000.

Over 100 Palestinians were killed in the assault on the camps and another 500-plus injured. The dead and injured are each an individual tragedy for their families, families with few other places to turn for help and assistance than UNRWA. The Agency will now try to find the resources to provide welfare services for households without a breadwinner, physical rehabilitation for the injured and trauma counselling for the children who witnessed the battles in their streets and homes.

Mr Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said: At the end of January UNRWA called on the international community to donate $117 million to help us give emergency care to Palestinians refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory during 2002. A little over a month later there was a ferocious assault on the refugee camps by Israel's military. An assault that has multiplied the burden on UNRWA's scarce resources not only by damaging much of our infrastructure and installations, but by creating more victims of violence and destruction. Now more than ever, the refugees urgently need the international community to come to their aid.
For Information Only
Not an Official Document
For more information contact: Paul McCann on 059 428 008 or 08 677 7526

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